PREVIEW The Blues Band
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The Blues Band members are celebrating 40 years in music, with a visit to Theatre Royal Winchester on Saturday 2 November.
Yes, you read that correctly – 40 years!
The Blues Band came to life following a phone call between the two founding members – front man of English rock band Manfred Mann, Paul Jones, and Tom McGuinness who had played with Eric Clapton – during which they discussed forming a band ‘just to play the blues’.
Together with three more music industry veterans – slide guitarist Dave Kelly, bassist Gary Fletcher, and drummer Hughie Flint (later replaced by Rob Townsend – they rebelled against the post-punk scene of the late 70s, to form their band.
Look who’s on the phone then to tell Winchester Today why they’re still successful 40 years on… Paul Jones himself.
Having listened to him over the course of 32 years on Radio 2, the voice is immediately recognisable: “I think we’re still going because we’re not together constantly. We all have our own careers outside of The Blues Band. You know, I have the Manfreds as well now that they’re back together… we’re not having to be together all the time.”
Even at the end of a phone line, I can hear him laughing when he reflects on the time span: “Forty years… back in the day, I was a big fan of a modern jazz quartet and I remember at the time that they had been together for 28 years and being astonished by that. Now look… we’ve done 28 and a whole lot more!”
Being together for that time means not having to spend a huge amount on rehearsing, and they don’t even have a set list. With 20 albums they certainly have a lot of material to fall back on: “One of us will call out what they want to do. We always know whose turn it is to call out the next song… but sometimes one of us will name a song that we’ve never done, or haven’t done for years and years.”
As for Paul himself, it’s likely to be ‘Got To Be The Blues’ from the album ‘Brassed Up’ (1999).
Why does he love the blues so much?: “There’s something about the way blues songs reflect the real world. Reality, but with creativity and the way in which it’s poetic.
“It’s also heart-rending and it still gets to me now, in the sense that it takes me to another place. Blues deals with everyday life but in a different way.
“If I go back to when I was 15, I was listening to Count Basie and Jimmie Rushing. He had the most wonderful voice. both plaintive and assertive. That got to me. I’ve even got one on an old 78, and that was old when I got it!”
If, like me, you miss Paul’s voice on the radio, rest assured there’s no animosity that Cerys Matthews has taken over: “I really don’t know how I had the time to do it, actually. I don’t miss it particularly, but I haven’t even got the time to miss it. There was only The Blues Band at the time because the Manfreds hadn’t re-started.
“Having said that of course, it was a GREAT period of my life, and I’m very grateful to Radio 2 for giving me the opportunity.”
Theatre Royal Winchester is the third date on the tour, and believe me Paul is looking forward to it: “We love Theatre Royal Winchester!”
If you want to see what 40 years of skill and devotion sound like, here’s your chance.
The Blues Band will be at Theatre Royal Winchester on Saturday 2 November, at 7.30pm. Find out more, or book tickets, by clicking on this link or call the Box Office on 01962 840 440.